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Books

Four theology books

On Difficulties in Sacred Scripture 

St. Maximos the Confessor

St. Maximos (580-662) was a Christian ascetic who believed that avoiding self-indulgence is the most obvious and proper approach to serving God. His watchword: “Do not love the world.” He insisted that sensory attachment to the things of this world prevents us from raising our minds to God and understanding His Word. As true as that core conviction is, Maximos uses it to find ascetic practice in every Biblical text he looks at, even when it’s not there. Yet in our current culture where self-denial is virtually unthinkable, a judicious evaluation of patristic arguments for it might be useful to Christians. —C.N.

Plain Theology for Plain People 

Charles Octavius Boothe

Boothe (1845-1924), founder of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., believed that “the private members of churches … have great need for the truths that books teach,” but that few theology books were “suited to their time, their understanding, and their wants.” So he wrote one. He lays out the entire system of Christian doctrine in 140 glorious pages. The chapter titled “How Christians Should Live and Labor” focuses largely on joining the church and partaking of the sacraments, and much of the book consists of long Bible quotations. —C.N.

My Heart Cries Out: Gospel Meditations for Everyday Life

Paul David Tripp

Tripp’s poems/meditations deal with the struggles of the Christian life. Some of them are bracing, with short lines of rat-a-tat truth: “No idea can liberate, no power can save, no institution can redeem, restore, resuscitate, or recreate what sin has destroyed.” Others use repetition to underscore important truths. Illustrated with photographs by Tim Kellner, each poem brings a Biblical perspective to daily concerns: “I was anxious this morning—too many details, loose ends. … Doubt plunders faith. Anxiety decimates rest. … Anxiety is a form of amnesia. Forgetting your presence, your plan.” —S.O.

Blessed Broken Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of Jesus 

Glenn Packiam

Bread is ordinary, but it’s also a Biblical metaphor conveying spiritual truth. Packiam follows the metaphor, tracing out its application to identity, grace, God’s love, sin, mission, and service. Just-right illustrations from his life clarify his message. Packiam concludes by comparing two feasts found in Mark’s Gospel: Herod’s feast, which ends in death, and Jesus feeding the 5,000. “At Herod’s feast, performance was everything.” At Jesus’ feast the people “didn’t have to perform for Him to notice them. He saw them from the beginning. And He loved them. So He fed them—with words and with bread.” —S.O.


 

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Books

Four theology books

On Difficulties in Sacred Scripture 

St. Maximos the Confessor

St. Maximos (580-662) was a Christian ascetic who believed that avoiding self-indulgence is the most obvious and proper approach to serving God. His watchword: “Do not love the world.” He insisted that sensory attachment to the things of this world prevents us from raising our minds to God and understanding His Word. As true as that core conviction is, Maximos uses it to find ascetic practice in every Biblical text he looks at, even when it’s not there. Yet in our current culture where self-denial is virtually unthinkable, a judicious evaluation of patristic arguments for it might be useful to Christians. —C.N.

Plain Theology for Plain People 

Charles Octavius Boothe

Boothe (1845-1924), founder of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., believed that “the private members of churches … have great need for the truths that books teach,” but that few theology books were “suited to their time, their understanding, and their wants.” So he wrote one. He lays out the entire system of Christian doctrine in 140 glorious pages. The chapter titled “How Christians Should Live and Labor” focuses largely on joining the church and partaking of the sacraments, and much of the book consists of long Bible quotations. —C.N.

My Heart Cries Out: Gospel Meditations for Everyday Life

Paul David Tripp

Tripp’s poems/meditations deal with the struggles of the Christian life. Some of them are bracing, with short lines of rat-a-tat truth: “No idea can liberate, no power can save, no institution can redeem, restore, resuscitate, or recreate what sin has destroyed.” Others use repetition to underscore important truths. Illustrated with photographs by Tim Kellner, each poem brings a Biblical perspective to daily concerns: “I was anxious this morning—too many details, loose ends. … Doubt plunders faith. Anxiety decimates rest. … Anxiety is a form of amnesia. Forgetting your presence, your plan.” —S.O.

Blessed Broken Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of Jesus 

Glenn Packiam

Bread is ordinary, but it’s also a Biblical metaphor conveying spiritual truth. Packiam follows the metaphor, tracing out its application to identity, grace, God’s love, sin, mission, and service. Just-right illustrations from his life clarify his message. Packiam concludes by comparing two feasts found in Mark’s Gospel: Herod’s feast, which ends in death, and Jesus feeding the 5,000. “At Herod’s feast, performance was everything.” At Jesus’ feast the people “didn’t have to perform for Him to notice them. He saw them from the beginning. And He loved them. So He fed them—with words and with bread.” —S.O.


 

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Clarence Thomas

Books

The view from the bench

A biography of Clarence Thomas

Myron Magnet’s Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution (Encounter, 2019) combines a biography of a brave Supreme Court justice with analysis of his most important decisions and dissents. Magnet portrays Thomas as not just a solid justice but a great one, “one of a handful of honest and brave iconoclasts who love liberty, especially the freedom to think for oneself.”

Two passages particularly got to me. Magnet shows how Woodrow Wilson believed a Constitution modeled on a Newtonian understanding of checks and balances had to give way to government operated “under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. … No living thing can have its organs offset against each other. … Living political constitutions must be Darwinian,” evolving as political scientists dictate.

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